Volvo Trucks’ I-shift: Heavy Haulage Low Down Grunt

Volvo Truck’s I-shift with crawler gears offers a flexibility that allows fleet owners to say yes to more jobs. The world-class automated gearbox with one or two crawler gears and the added option of extra reverse gears offers versatility and allows for more opportunities and higher productivity.

The I-shift with crawler gears is available for the FM, FMX and FH series. This unique innovation equips a standard factory truck with market-leading heavy haulage capability. Instead of specifying a truck with a slow rear axle ratio specifically for heavy haulage, they can now specify the truck with a faster rear axle ratio.

“Whether the purpose is heavy hauling operations on tough terrain or long haulage on the highway, we want to offer our customers the option to use the same truck for whatever application they may require; a ‘split personality’,” says Malcolm Gush, Sales Director at Volvo Trucks Southern Africa.

Illustrated in the ‘Volvo Truck vs 750 tonnes: Extreme heavy haulage challenge’, the I-shift with crawler gears offers excellent startability for heavily loaded trucks in demanding terrain and better hill climbing abilities. Customers can expect normal performance at normal engine speed because the I-shift crawler gears produce maximum torque while the truck crawls slowly.

The two crawler gears of the I-Shift gearbox permit hassle free start-offs from a standstill with loads of up to 325 tonnes in total weight on an uphill gradient of 3%. “The I-shift gearbox with two added crawler gears is like having two trucks in one, you start-of effortlessly, forward and in reverse, on a hill in tough conditions with a heavy load and right thereafter you will still be able to optimise the driveline for highways, saving fuel in both applications,” says Gush.

Now your Volvo Truck can work all year round across several applications with world class performance and fuel efficiency. The internal energy losses are lower than on manual gearboxes, due to the precisely-timed gear changes that the I-shift offers. The gear changes that the software provides are impossible for even the best of drivers to contest. The perfect shifting ensures that the engine works at its most efficient rpm, whether in economy or performance mode. Furthermore, if you are travelling downhill, I-Roll disengages the engine – maximising the truck’s momentum and saving up to an additional 2% of fuel, adds Gush.

“Heavy haulage is a very specialised and exacting application that requires skilled drivers and our driver development programme has a specialised module for heavy haulage and demanding operations. We want to ensure that our customers operate in a safe and efficient manner for higher uptime and hence a higher profit,” says Gush.

Low-speed maneuvering is one of the most challenging aspects of heavy haulage work; a combination of precision and control. Thanks to a transmission ratio of up to 32:1 (and up to 37:1 in reverse), I-Shift with crawler gears lets you drive at speeds as low as 0.7-2 km/h at maximum power. You always have total control, making it easy to park with precision when you’re about to load or unload your cargo and to avoid accidents that can ruin your day and your productivity.

How the I-Shift gearbox works

The secret lies in the intelligent electronic control unit, responsible for controlling the pneumatic system that handles the clutch and shifts. By constantly receiving information about vehicle speed, acceleration, weight, road grade, torque demand and more, it can carry out every shift with extreme precision. It also communicates closely with the engine, which in turn adjusts revs and engine brake effect for fast and comfortable shifting.